All great works of art find their inspiration in some place or other. And every great artist, too, has their own inspiration. So if we are talking about the 21st century, there is no greater show that has the level of popularity that Stranger Things has. In just six years since its initial release, the show has made a mark in human history as one of the most popular works of art.
But like we said, all works of art must have some inspiration. And since the first day, the great creators of Stranger Things, The Duffer Brothers, have stated multiple inspirations that have made the show what it is today.
So let us take a look at a few real-life inspirations that make Stranger Things one of the greatest shows ever.
Movies, TV shows and books that have served as inspiration for Stranger Things
Carrie by Stephen King
Stephen King‘s books influenced the teenage Duffer brothers‘ interest in a darker narrative, which would come full circle when King himself tweeted his admiration for Stranger Things in the days after Season 1’s premiere!
In many respects, Carrie is a clear analog to Stranger Things: a mistreated teenager with telekinetic talents and an abusive parental figure.
When pushed too far, Carrie, like Eleven, unleashes all of her powers on her tormentors. Also, the Rink-O-Mania incident in Season 4, Part 1, when bully Angela spills a milkshake on Eleven, is very reminiscent of the pig blood scene in Carrie.
A scene from Scream is reproduced in Season 4, Part 1, when Chrissy Cunningham‘s body is carried away on a stretcher, shrouded by a sheet. The camera moves across the scene from above, as it does in Scream.
Stand By Me both book and movie
The Duffers were inspired by both the Stephen King story upon which the film was based and the film itself.
The Duffers had the young actors recite lines from the film during their auditions, and the sequence when Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Eleven walk down the railroad tracks looking for Will is a nod to the film.
Guillermo del Toro and his monsters
One of the Duffers’ influences is Guillermo del Toro, known for his terrifying and mind-bending films. Del Toro’s flicks include ethereal and meticulously designed creatures that assist in constructing an immersive universe that hooks you in. The same as in Stranger Things.
Dungeons and Dragons
There is no Stranger Things without the amazing game of D&D. So far, the game has been a thread across the whole series, but it is more than just the characters who become lost in its enormous narrative.
While Matt and Ross Duffer came up with the monster, they quickly flick through D&D Creature Manuals to see what the kids would most likely refer to when describing the monster.
Steven Spielberg’s Jaws
If you look closely in Season 4, Part 1, you’ll see a Jaws poster in Will’s room, complete with the authentic ’80s folded down the middle. Incidentally, the Duffers were originally planning to call their show Montauk as an homage to Jaws.
There are youngsters known as “Espers” in Akira who have psychic skills. These skills were a result of being a test subject for covert government trials.
Of course, the goal is to enhance these skills for personal advantage by the government, same as how Eleven’s capabilities were utilized to spy on Russians during the Cold War. The Espers also use numbers for names, with Akira being the number 28.
Silent Hill the video game
Silent Hill, a horror video game, was also an inspiration for the Duffer brothers. In the game, players attempt to solve a mystery in a town overrun by shadows and terrifying animals.
Sam Raimi’s legendary Evil Dead films had a huge influence on the Duffer brothers and, therefore, Stranger Things.
Similarities and homages to the series are present throughout the series. Parallels like Jonathan’s bedroom poster to a cottage in the woods with secrets beneath its floorboards, otherworldly beasts, and more.
Films by John Carpenter
Back in Season 2, Max disguises himself as Halloween monster Michael Myers and terrorizes Dustin, Mike, Will, and Lucas! In Season 4, when Max is kidnapped by Vecna, we discover a gravestone with “Myers” carved on it in Vecna’s frightening lair.
Xenomorph from Alien
According to Ross Duffer, this sci-fi horror classic was instrumental in the development of Stranger Things later on. Its xenomorph monster also influenced the design of the show’s famous Demogorgon.
Which inspiration surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments. Also do let us know if there are other inspirations that we have missed.
Stream Stranger Things only on Netflix.